To appropriately fit an application with the ideal type of neoprene, durometer should be considered. Durometer is the measurement of a material’s hardness. The ability to manipulate synthetic compounds like neoprene sheet rubber means that different neoprene rubber sheets may have different attributes, including durometer.
How Strong Is Neoprene Rubber?
A common question—how strong is neoprene rubber? The strength of sheet neoprene depends, in large part, on its durometer. Neoprene can be made either hard or soft, as well as in different forms. With variations in durometer and density, neoprene products are versatile—different rubber neoprene items are tailored toward different needs. Some of these applications will need a rubber that is easily compressible, thus making soft neoprene the ideal solution. On the other hand, the application may require something that doesn’t compress as much, so hard neoprene rubber would be ideal for the task. While this may seem straightforward enough, general literacy in neoprene rubber’s specifications, such as neoprene durometer, will help you make the best decision possible when working with the material neoprene. Frankly, awareness of durometer—neoprene or not—will assist your decision-making when it comes to materials similar to neoprene, too, such as other synthetic rubbers.
Is Neoprene Rubber Hard or Soft?
Whether neoprene rubber is hard or soft depends on the durometer of the neoprene product in question since neoprene sheeting is made in different levels of hardness. Before diving deeper into the question “Is neoprene rubber hard or soft?” you should be aware of two forms of neoprene: solid and cellular. Solid neoprene is dense and is more difficult to compress. Cellular neoprene is the spongy form of neoprene and is easier to compress than solid neoprene rubber is. These types of neoprene differ, and each type is better suited for a specific set of applications. Measuring durometer and density are some of the best ways to determine which applications the neoprene sheet rubber is ideal for. Within each classification of neoprene, durometer is measured on a corresponding Shore scale. Here is a simplified breakdown of the Shore scales:
Shore A Scale: Solid neoprene is measured using the Shore A scale, the most common scale for elastomers. Other items measured on the Shore A scale include rubber bands (30 Shore A) and tire treads (60 Shore A). Since products like a solid neoprene rubber strip can be manufactured with varying durometers, the right level of neoprene durometer depends on the application. Durometer correlates with a material’s density. Neorene with a lower durometer like soft neoprene (45 Shore A) takes less pressure to compress than a higher durometer product like hard neoprene (65-75 Shore A).
Shore 00 Scale: The Shore 00 scale is used to measure the hardness of cellular neoprene and other soft, easily-compressible elastomers. Gummy bears (10 Shore 00) and gel shoe-insoles (30 Shore 00) are other materials on this scale alongside cell neoprene products, such as an open-cell neoprene sheet or a closed cell neoprene foam sheet. Just like its more solid counterpart, cell neoprene is available in a range of durometers. It is important to know which scale is used for each type of neoprene so that you know exactly what you’re getting into when you read a neoprene product’s specifications.
While these two types of neoprene material typically serve different functions, there are some instances in which both types generally apply. A common use for both solid and cell neoprene is as a gasket or weather stripping. As a general rule, a material with high compressibility like soft neoprene ensures a tighter seal. Yet, at the same time, a gasket should be resilient enough to withstand the physical abuse from more demanding applications. The material should not be so compressible that the two connecting parts come into contact. In this case, it is best to use a neoprene which is balanced in its qualities, but could feasibly come from either of the two scales. The type of neoprene sheet rubber that works best for these applications is case-specific, so you should diligently research the type that is ideal for your needs.
How Flexible Is Neoprene Sheet Rubber?
A final question you might have—how flexible is neoprene sheet rubber? The degree of flexibility of elastic neoprene depends on factors such as neoprene durometer and neoprene density. But, compared to other, non-rubber materials, neoprene is highly flexible, given that it’s an elastomer. Flexible neoprene is the standard for most neoprene products since, in general, people use rubber for its flexibility, among other things. But if your application demands a certain level of flexibility, look toward durometer and density for guidance. And for applications that are less demanding in terms of the specifications of neoprene, durometer and density ultimately come down to the user’s preference. For example, solid neoprene sheet rubber fabricated as a neoprene bumper protector does not need a precise durometer in order to be effective. Consider your application and try to determine how crucial it is to know both durometer and density. Neoprene, in its many forms, is beneficial for a wide array of uses. If you do the research, your decision should be made easy!
Choosing Your Neoprene Sheet Rubber: Durometer and Density